Phil Jackson apparently wants to coach the New York Knicks – only not really.
Jackson, 70, is reportedly open to coaching the Knicks’ home games and leaving road duties to an assistant. Carmelo Anthony is not a fan of this, saying Tuesday that “Phil ain’t coaching no more.”
Thus, it seems that Jackson’s dual-coach idea doesn’t have much traction, does it?
“I don’t believe so,” CBS Sports NBA insider Ken Berger told Damon Amendolara, who was filling in as host of CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “I think Carmelo said it all. I don’t think he would accept it, and I don’t think the Knicks should accept it. In fact, the Lakers didn’t accept it when Phil proposed this to them toward the end of his tenure in L.A. The reality for Phil is he still has the mind and the instincts and the desire to coach; he just doesn’t have the physical ability anymore to handle the rigors of the job – the travel, in particular. And so, that is sort of a compromise that has been floated over the years with him, that if he couldn’t get on all the airplanes and handle the travel because of his hips and his back and his knees, then why not just get him on the bench for 41 games a year and let sort of a body double in the form of Kurt Rambis take over for the road games?”
Well, because it’s weird. That’s why.
“It just doesn’t make sense from a team standpoint,” Berger said. “If you’re expecting the players to be there every night and show up every night on the road, at home – whatever the game is – then the head coach should be doing that, too. So I think the best approach for the Knicks is for Phil to focus on the job that he was hired for, which is not to coach. It’s to pick the players and pick a coach to lead the team. I think you’d have to be a pretty cynical Knicks fan to not be pleased with the job he’s done from a personnel standpoint so far with (Kristaps) Porzingis and some of the prudent moves that he made during the offseason last summer. But I think any discussion about him possibly coaching is just going to detract from the real job at hand.”
Still, one must wonder if Jackson floated this idea to convey that he longer wishes to serve as team president. After all, the Knicks (28-40) started the year 22-22 but have lost 18 of their last 24 games.
“Whenever something like that gets out, you wonder always about the motivations behind it,” Berger said. “So Phil, for him to kind of turn tail and leave before the job is finished here, I think, would be a pretty bad look for him. He’s got some building blocks in place. He started the job. He said when he got to New York that he was committed to returning this franchise to some semblance of respectability and creating a culture of winning and a style of play that Knicks fans could be proud of. I think it’d be a pretty bad look for him to walk way before that job was even close to done.”